Name: Vicențiu Dîngă
Occupation: Public Relations Manager
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
I’m a 27 year old Romanian guy who’s been living in Amsterdam for the past 5 years, having come here for a Master’s degree back in 2012 and who never left. Since then, I’ve gone through a few jobs which included journalism and social media marketing and I’m now settled at a tech media company called The Next Web, where I am in charge of PR. I enjoy reading, taking film photos, drinking whisky, and I like both cats and dogs. I sometimes cruise my skateboard through the park with my girlfriend or practice target shooting at the neighbourhood shooting range.
What is a skill someone who professionally communicates on behalf of a company or a different person should definetly have?
Interest and knowledge into what the company or individual does. You can’t speak for a company or tell its story if you don’t know it inside-out or if you’re not really interested in their philosophy. Not sure if that’s really a skill, but I think it’s probably one of the most basic things you need in order to properly communicate about something to others.
What role does creativity play in your work?
I often have to get creative when it comes to the stories I craft, the way I choose to tell them by building on a particular angle as well as doing research into who is going to tell that story and how. Sometimes I have to be quick and respond to a trend or news, and do it creatively, or come up with a good headline that is eye-catching. I occasionally neglect the fact that creativity is involved in what I do, but then I remember it’s somewhat ubiquitous.
What has been your most liberating revelation regarding work?
That the ‘dream job’ is a myth and trying to chase it is a waste of time. I dislike that whole mentality of ‘you can do anything you want’ and ‘just follow your dreams’. It’s perfectly fine to not be absolutely in love with your day job, or if you don’t ‘live every day like it’s your last’. I just wish more people would wake up and stop worshipping these unrealistic social expectations. Life comes at you fast, and most days you just try to get by; don’t expect that work will be all fulfilling and just cut yourself (and others) some slack. Honestly, I still have no idea what my (career) dreams look like, and that’s just fine.
Do you have any side projects?
I have the bad habit of getting excited about new things and then, a short later, finding them completely dull. I bought a guitar a couple of years ago which I’ve played for a total of 3 weeks and I also got into running last year, which I abandoned a few weeks later. I could list at least 10 other ‘side projects’ that I’ve quit in the past few years.
That said, I’ve been interested in 35mm film photography for the past 10 years or so, and I’ve been working on a couple of social projects in that area that I hope to take live at some point in 2017. Other than that, I’m a big scotch whisky fan and on most evenings you’ll find me enjoying a dram while reading a book.
Is there something you are learning right now?
I’ve started learning Dutch again. I don’t really need it that much, but I figured I might as well be able to speak the local language if I’m going to be in Amsterdam for a while longer. I’m also one of those people who constantly want to learn something new, so it’s often that I get into things like brewing my own beer, reading about magic in the middle ages, or studying the art of crafting japanese denim.
In an interview for Dutch News you said you went to Amsterdam to find purpose in life. Did you find it?
I definitely found some motivation that I had lost before moving here. And whether that was because of school, a new job, a new relationship or the opportunities of being in a new place, I found lots of reasons to get out of the bed in the morning. But some of that motivation is independent of the place I live in and I’m very well aware that not everyone needs to put themselves in this (leaving) situation to find purpose. I do, however, wholeheartedly recommend it, even if it’s temporary.
Do you think finding one’s purpose is something extrinsic?
Not exclusively. I think we all strive for things internally and whether you can motivate yourself to reach those goals, it’s all up to you and it should be independent of external factors. I find that my interest and enjoyment (intrinsic motivation) in an act decline as things become a chore, a demand, or I’m supposed to be rewarded (extrinsic).
If you can find internal validation, independent goals and intrinsic motivation in what you do, then you’re probably doing something great. I still find it a big challenge.
What’s the hardest thing when moving to a different country?
It’s the whole experience of leaving and starting from scratch, which can be scary, just as it can be exciting. It’s the fear of how and if you’re going to make new friends. It’s the things you’re missing out on from back home, the birthdays, weddings, holidays, every family & friends life event that happens without you being a part of it. It’s the time that passes and leaves its mark on people you know – they grow up, they move away, they change, and so do you.
You can go back one day and find that it’s harder to start a conversation with someone that you used to know well and that’s because you became an outsider. You don’t get the new inside jokes and most encounters will be about catching up on recent events or reminiscing about the days of old. It can get sad, especially when you know you can’t stay for too long and your time is limited. But then, somewhere between the moment you board the plane to get back to your new country and the moment the plane descends from the sky and starts to land, you get a bittersweet feeling of relief – you’re ‘home again’.
In what ways have you changed since leaving Romania?
This might be an obvious one but it definitely made me more independent. I had to rebuild everything, from education, work experience, friends and relationships to having a place of my own. Being alone and having to rely on yourself (at least in the very beginning) makes you more confident, more comfortable with yourself. The whole experience has a calming effect and, if you get through it, you’ll feel better knowing that, if needs be, you can pack your bags and start over again – after all, you’ve done it before.
The act of leaving changes you no matter what. You discover different traits in your personality that you didn’t know existed before. You take on qualities and flaws and opinions from the world you live in and people around you. I became more systematic, more selective, more empathetic, but also more misanthropic, more reserved and probably less joyful, which can also just be an effect of growing older.
What do you do when you feel bad about yourself?
I wallow in it. I think feeling bad can be just as powerful (if not more) and functional as feeling good about yourself, so I learned to live with it. I put on some sad tunes, pour myself a drink, watch some bad TV and wait it out. If it’s not too soul crushing, I’ll go out for a long walk, I’ll take some photos, I’ll try to make something out of it. But I mostly accept it because I am what I am and some things I just can’t and won’t change.
What would you advise your younger self?
Spend more time with your loved ones – they’re not going to be there forever… and neither are you.
The Lifelong Learners are conversations with people regarding their work experiences, what keeps them going, how they deal with failure and self doubt and the things they learn along the journey.